From The Desk Of Terry Holland
Sept. 7, 2007
When Virginia Tech first asked their fans to simply refrain from booing the opposing team's entrance for the 2007 season, there was a good bit of initial resistance. But it is hard to believe that anyone who cares about the long term health of Virginia Tech's football program would want to back away from what they accomplished last Saturday. And it is hard to imagine any Pirate who did not have goose bumps when the Naval Academy welcomed us in Annapolis last year.
We can either wait until everyone else is doing it or take advantage of our opportunity to be a leader in this part of the country. The truth of the matter is that in the competitive world of intercollegiate athletics, you are either moving forward or sliding downhill. There is no status quo, even for the biggest and baddest football programs of a few years ago.
I have been accused of "dividing the Pirate Nation" by calling for ECU fans to welcome our opponents. The reality is that if your own AD can divide the Pirate Nation this easily, we didn't have much "stick-together" going for us in the first place. What would some really tough times do to us or if the threat was from someone who really was trying to divide us.
If it is simply a matter of an in-state rival being the first to be welcomed, then we need to get over it and move forward. Welcoming the opposing team and fans prior to kickoff is not cheering for the other team. There are few people in this country who have battled UNC for as many years and with the intensity that I have and I have the scars to prove it. However, I will always do my best to keep my personal feelings from interfering with my attempt to do what is best for ECU.
We have three choices - we can welcome all opponents and try to be a leader in sportsmanship in college athletics; we can all refuse to participate by making this and future decisions by "internet acclamation;" or we can do it half-way as a divided Pirate Nation. For my money, it is not often that you have such an easy opportunity to become a national or regional leader and we should take advantage of that opportunity.
I have been preaching from Day One that ECU can never return to letting outside circumstances dictate who we are and what our potential can be. We allowed ourselves to believe the BCS was going to make it too hard for us to be competitive and ended up at 3-20 over two years while Utah and Boise State went to BCS bowls and WON the bowl games. We allowed ourselves to believe that someone else should fix things for us or that people were against us and ended up being left behind when the Big East selected its football members from C-USA.
I think that we have to believe in ourselves while looking for every opportunity to prove ourselves and to become leaders in intercollegiate athletics. We don't have the luxury of worrying about past history with anyone who can possibly become our allly in the future.
Make no mistake - we want to win this game Saturday and show the State and the Nation what Pirate Football is all about. At the same time, we should be good hosts and create a healthy environment for both teams that will set a standard and make football weekends enjoyable for everyone.
But that is just one man's opinion and I certainly do not believe that I can or should make you do something you don't want to do. YOU have to want to do it because you believe it is the right thing for ECU's long term success.